The Big Class Reading

Nearly 24 hours later than promised — here’s the text of what I wrote especially for my writing class’ big “end-of-term multi-class reading”. The criterion was simple: stay at or under two minutes fifteen seconds. 

This week, I’ll write another post about the masochistic and stupid choice I made of imposing this unnecessary deadline on myself. What did I call the process the other day? Bliss? Ha! If by “bliss” I meant “painful and terrifying,” then that was a spot on way to put it. But it was also fabulous, and a gift, and horrible, and great. More about all that later. I’ll also include some details about the reading.

Without further ado, here’s my piece, which it turns out is fiction. Go figure.



Last Tuesday, my therapist asked, “What do you believe in?” The tissue in my hand was damp, and I knew it had left traces of white residue all around my eyes. It always did.

I looked at him when I answered, “I believe that we’re all going to die.” He blinked twice. Which, from a shrink, is a pretty big reaction.

Did he think I was going get all Bull Durhamy? All Kevin Costnery? All stoic? If a minor league catcher were familiar with the novels of Susan Sontag, if Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, if anyone, ever, actually used five single syllable adjectives in a row, then this would be a different universe.

But as it is, in this universe, I don’t believe in, nor do I want, kisses that last three days. I mean, I have to eat at least once every six waking hours, and slow, strong, sweet (stopping two adjectives short of five) inhales through the mouth are my preferred method of breathing. What do I believe in. What do you believe in? What kind of mind fuck of a question is that?

On my walk home from the session, I stopped by the skate park to watch for a minute. This one little kid – maybe ten or eleven – got to the top of the ramp, and jumped up flipping his board into a mid-air rotation. It’s a stunt I’ve seen skater after skater try and fail. As soon as his board landed – wheels to the ground – rolling, he landed right back on top of it, smiled, and kept full forward trajectory.

I wanted to cheer, to run, to thank him.

I wanted to high five anybody with a palm.

I wanted to tell yell, “I saw that!”

And “What did you see?” my shrink might later ask.

I’d squeeze that cheap white tissue and say:

In his jump, I saw the water from Annie Sullivan’s well rushing up over the sands of the Atlantic to my nephew’s toes.

In his flight, I saw Galileo’s moons shining on Vincent’s stars reflected off Jesse Owens’ gold medals onto each strand of hair of Rubens’ young lady.

In his landing, I heard Bach’s Cello Suites accompanied by a cricket in the corner.

I heard the start up chimes of a new apple computer; I heard an EMT shout, “Clear!”

I heard Faulkner’s Benjy singing Cohen’s Halleluiah, and Lee’s Scout chanting Ginsberg’s Howl but Twain’s Huck didn’t add a noise because this — after all — was just one jump.



6 thoughts on “The Big Class Reading

  1. This was so, so wonderful!And the oceans and lands inbetween us is probably the reason why you can’t hear me clapping and shouting for you! Someday, I am going to meet you and hear you speak. :)

    1. Thanks, Erin. :) Because I wrote it to be performed out loud, I’m not sure it’s translating here at the blog…. I can usually write short posts, but I haven’t (until now) attempted to develop character and show a transformation in that short of a span like this… not sure if I pulled it off exactly & may have relied on my acting to show the expression … I don’t know… I have zero objectivity. All this to say, your kind words are encouraging. Thanks.

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